Democrats and Republicans double-down on abortion, but where do Americans stand?

Posted July 31

With both major political parties taking firmer positions on abortion this election cycle, a new poll is offering insight into where Americans stand on the issue.

The survey, commissioned by the Knights of Columbus and conducted by the Marist Institute for Public Opinion, also measured Americans' views on religious liberty as it pertains to abortion.

According to the results, 56 percent of Americans do not believe that a health care provider should be forced to perform an abortion if the procedure violates his or her religious beliefs or conscience.

The survey also yielded some intriguing results when it comes to restrictions on the procedure. While 51 percent of Americans called themselves "pro-choice," the majority of respondents supported restrictions on the procedure.

In fact, 78 percent of respondents said they would limit abortion to the first three months of pregnancy. Even the majority of Americans who called themselves pro-choice — 62 percent — agreed with this proposal.

Additionally, 62 percent of Americans said they oppose taxpayer funding for abortion. That's a statistic that could get some attention this election cycle, considering that the Democratic Party Platform calls for a repeal of the Hyde Amendment, a law curtailing abortion funding that was passed in 1976.

The Hyde Amendment prevents federal money from being used to pay for the majority of abortion procedures, leaving states to decide whether to pay. Under the law, though, exceptions are made for the mother's life, incest and rape.

"We will continue to oppose — and seek to overturn — federal and state laws and policies that impede a woman’s access to abortion, including by repealing the Hyde Amendment," the Democratic platform reads.

Forty-five percent of pro-choice Americans also oppose taxpayer funding of abortion.

And in light of the Supreme Court's recent rejection of a Texas law that curtailed abortion availability, some specific views on clinics and doctors who perform the procedure were assessed, offering up some noteworthy findings.

A majority of Americans — 78 percent — want to see standards at abortion clinics mirror the same standards seen at outpatient surgery centers. Additionally, 70 percent want a doctor who performs abortions to have admitting privileges to a hospital. These were the main provisions in the now-defunct Texas law.

"The American people have spoken clearly on their desire for abortion restrictions, less taxpayer funding of it, and common sense regulations on this industry to protect women’s health," Knights of Columbus CEO Carl Anderson said in a statement. "Our courts, politicians, candidates and parties should heed this consensus."

The survey results come as the Republican Party has also adopted what some say is the "most pro-life platform ever."

As previously reported, under a subheader titled "The Fifth Amendment: Protecting Human Life," text in the GOP platform proclaims that the U.S.Constitution guarantees "no one can 'be deprived of life, liberty or property'" — a line that is then tied to the Declaration of Independence's message about every person being "endowed by their Creator."

The Knights of Columbus poll was conducted from July 5-12, 2016, among 1,009 U.S. adults ages 18 and older.

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